Jim Smart
August 1, 2005

Eighty-one-year-old Erwin Heck lives deep in the thick of rural West Virginia. This Candyapple Red '68 Mustang GT fastback has been in his family since November 1967. If you've ever wondered how low-mileage, unmolested originals exist, this is a story not unlike others we hear from time to time.

Erwin's son-in-law bought this car new in November 1967, but the euphoria of a new Mustang and a young marriage wouldn't last long. Shortly after purchasing the Mustang, Erwin's son-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and died the following August. The Mustang's odometer read 4,976 miles.

Because Erwin's daughter didn't know how to drive a stick shift, she considered trading the four-speed Mustang for a new Toyota. But when the Toyota dealership offered only $2,000 for the trade-in, Erwin stepped in to buy the still-new fastback. He drove it until August 1980, when a wiring short forced him to park it in the backyard. The odometer showed barely 40,000 miles.

In 1992, Erwin's son, John, concerned about the car's health, hauled it to a local body shop to begin a restoration that would take 10 years to complete. Once finished, and after the car won a couple of trophies at local shows, John decided to restore it again, doing the work himself and using only original or new-old-stock components.

John also learned that his father's car is a low-serial-number '68 Mustang fastback assembled at Metuchen, New Jersey, in the fall of 1967, 8T02J115556, before the UAW strike shut down the plant for three months. It had to have been one of only a few Fords left on the lot in late November 1967. Ironically, it was a loaded Mustang ride with all the trimmings.

When you check out the option sheet, it reads like a classic Mustang dream ship: 302-4V V-8, four-speed, Candyapple Red, GT Equipment Group, black Interior Dcor Group, full instrumentation, Styled Steel wheels, power front disc brakes, and-of all things-a factory rear-window defogger, which added $21.27 to the price of the car. When was the last time you saw a factory-original rear-window defogger?

Enthusiasts crowded around Erwin's 46,000-mile Mustang at the '04 Carlisle All-Ford Nationals for a closer look at not only the rear-window defogger, but the outstanding craftsmanship that has this slippery fastback ride looking like it did on a November day some 38 years ago.